Bring on the McTofu and Soy Burger Happy Meal (not actual products). One in 200 kids is a vegetarian, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's first ever report on vegetarians under age 18. "This has been a steadily growing trend over several years," says Elizabeth Turner, editor-in-chief of Vegetarian Times. "With the environment getting more attention in the media and pop culture, kids are making decisions about their identities and exploring not eating meat or even going completely vegan. The meat culture is less ingrained in kids, so they're more open to this evolution."
Turner says kids are leading today's vegetarian movement, for one major reason: social networking. "PETA reaches out on the web and goes for big, attention-grabbing stunts, and kids respond to that," Turner says. "Type 'vegetarian' into Facebook and see what you get."
Besides reaching out to these cutting-edge kids via social networking, you can also cater to them by simplifying their decision to go vegetarian. Kids may have difficulty determining what the vegetarian options are in restaurants and stores. "If entrepreneurs were savvier about making that choice easy and attractive," Turner says, "they might be able to gain lifelong loyalty."
"The meat culture is less ingrained in kids, so they're more open to this evolution."|
-Elizabeth Turner, Vegetarian Times
This story appears in the June 2009 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »